Instead of Banning Syrian Refugees, the Pope Is Washing Their Feet
The Easter bunny should watch out because Pope Francis is about to become your favorite Easter symbol.
According to Vatican Radio, the pope is celebrating mass on Maundy Thursday by visiting the Center for Asylum Seekers 25 miles north of Rome in Castelnuovo di Porto.
In a move straight out of the Bible, Francis washed the feet of several young Syrian refugees.
In 2015, Francis washed prisoners' feet at a Rome prison. The gesture of washing feet is described in the Gospel of John. On the Thursday before he is crucified, Jesus washes his followers' feet. Here's why: "Very truly I tell you, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him."
"We can understand the symbolic value intended by Pope Francis' visit to the CARA in Castelnuovo di Porto and his bending down to wash the feet of refugees," Archbishop Fisichella said in a statement. "His actions mean to tell us that it is important to pay due attention to the weakest in this historic moment; that we are all called to restore their dignity without resorting to subterfuge."
Fisichella also pointed out that many of the refugees whose feet Francis will bathe are of different religious backgrounds than the leader of the Catholic Church.
"It points to respect as the royal road to peace," Fisichella said. "Respect means being aware that there is another person beside me. A person who walks with me, suffers with me, rejoices with me. A person whom, one day, I may one day lean on for support. By washing the feet of refugees, Pope Francis implores respect for each one of them."
Francis spoke about the need for the United States to welcome incoming immigrants in our policies during his U.S. speaking tour in 2015.
"We must not be taken aback by their numbers," Francis said in an address to Congress, "but rather view them as persons, seeing their faces and listening to their stories, trying to respond as best we can to their situation. To respond in a way which is always humane, just and fraternal."
Though Francis addressed the Senate, Sens. Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz did not exactly absorb the message: Cruz attacked Rubio over approving measures that would allow the U.S. to accept refugees.
U.S. governors aren't any better. A handful of governors stated they would not accept Syrian refugees in their states. On the bright side, 18 mayors from major U.S. cities said they would accept refugees.
Then there's always Canada.